Streamlining the rental inspection process

The following operational policies were initiated in 2004 to streamline procedures and accomplish the mission of the Housing Inspection Services office as efficiently as possible. The adoption of the policies below has helped the Housing Inspection Services office to continue fulfilling its commitment to public safety through enforcement of the Housing Code. Property owners are encouraged to make use of these policies and inspection options to more effectively provide safe housing to all tenants in Iowa City.

Self-certification of owner-occupied units

For owner-occupied units in multi-family buildings with rental units that were built after May 10th, 1989, and all owner-occupied townhouse style structures, owners may, as an alternative to having City inspectors enter their unit, fill out an Owner-Occupied Fire & Life Safety Checklist Form and return the signed form to their property manager. Those completed checklists then become part of the City’s rental property file. Please note that if you, the owner, would prefer that City staff inspect your dwelling, just call your property manager or condominium association, and they will arrange to provide you with City inspection services.

Random unit inspection

For multi-family buildings with twelve or more units, owners/property managers can fill out the Multi-Family Fire & Life Safety Checklist Form within two weeks of the scheduled licensing inspection. Housing Inspection Services staff will then randomly inspect one-half the units and retain the discretion to inspect all the units if the inspector has reason to believe substantial problems may exist in other units. Those checklists will become part of the City’s rental property file. All common areas, fire/life-safety systems and exteriors of structures are inspected as usual.

Minimize inspections on new buildings

For new multi-family construction, at the time of the initial rental licensing inspection only common areas and exteriors will be inspected if owners/managers fill out the Multi-Family Fire & Life Safety Checklist Form within two weeks before the scheduled licensing inspection. The checklists will become part of the City’s rental property file. This initial reduced rental licensing inspection is a one-time occurrence only. A full inspection will be conducted at subsequent regularly scheduled licensing inspections. The inspector retains the discretion to inspect all units if he/she has reason to believe substantial problems exist within units.

Fire-safety/Life-safety reinspections

Housing Inspection Services staff continue to focus reinspection efforts on violations of the fire/life-safety system components of buildings and any significant maintenance items. If a fire/life-safety or significant maintenance violation exists during the initial inspection, the Inspector returns to verify that those items have been repaired and are in compliance. Routine maintenance items are cited as usual during the initial inspection but those items may not require the inspector to make a return visit to seek compliance.